Eastern Long-Necked Turtle - Reptile Encounters

Eastern Long-Necked Turtle

Scientific name:

Chelodina longicollis

Other names:

Eastern snake-necked turtle,


Common, with most populations considered secure

Carapace is usually brown to black, broad, oval or somewhat oblong-shaped and wider at rear. Adults have a groove down the centre of the carapace, and the carapace is also slightly upturned at the edges. Long, narrow neck can be up to 60% of the carapace length. Plastron is white or yellow with distinct, broad black bands along the margins of the scutes.Juveniles will often have a far brighter undersurface or yellow, orange or red.

Carnivorous, consuming a variety of aquatic animals including insects, worms, tadpoles, frogs, small fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

Found in almost any suitable water source, including rivers, creeks, wetlands, lakes, sewerage ponds, irrigation channels and farm dams. Will use both permanent and ephemeral water sources.

This species is widespread throughout most of south-eastern Australia from the west of Adelaide through all of Victoria, northwards through most of NSW to just south of Townsville in Queensland.

Although this species is considered aquatic they are often referred to as ‘Australia’s most terrestrial turtle’ as they seem to have no problem travelling over land between water sources, sometimes for kilometres at a time. Noone is completely certain as to how the turtles know they are travelling towards a water source that actually contains water at the time, although it has been suggested that the turtles can sense UV radiation being reflected off the surface of the water even from quite a distance away. This may explain why the turtles will sometimes stay motionless for long periods of time with their necks outstretched and heads looking towards the sky.

During summer rains it is often encountered attempting to cross roads moving between these water sources, which can lead to the turtles being hit by cars. People who come to the turtles’ rescue often receive little reward for their efforts, as the turtles will release a foul odour from scent glands either side of the cloaca. The smell is quite powerful and makes the turtle smell like it has been dead for some time. This particular scent would help drive away would-be predators who may prefer a slightly fresher meal.

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